One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A plant of the borage family, cultivated for its fragrant purple or blue flowers which are used in perfume.
- ‘Cooling fountains mask traffic noise, while hummingbirds and butterflies explore the charms of tuberoses, heliotrope, and other plants chosen for their sensual appeal.’
- ‘Surround a garden bench with heliotrope or aromatic foliage plants like scented geraniums.’
- ‘The lush, fragrant flowers of the heliotrope range from dark violet to white in color.’
- ‘She inhaled the scents of dust, orange oil, and the perfume the heliotropes sent throughout the room.’
- ‘A member of the borage family, common heliotrope is one of about 250 Heliotropium species, but it is the only one widely grown in gardens.’
- 1.1mass noun A light purple colour, similar to that of heliotrope flowers.
- ‘Only then did they turn to color, using purples like heliotrope and verbena to complement the flax, and soft apricots for gentle contrast.’
- ‘To the right, a shoal of rocks whose faceted surfaces are painted pink, heliotrope and gray resembles a hand-rendered version of a computer-generated landscape.’
Old English eliotropus (originally applied to various plants whose flowers turn towards the sun), via Latin from Greek hēliotropion ‘plant turning its flowers to the sun’, from hēlios ‘sun’ + trepein ‘to turn’. The spelling was influenced by French héliotrope.
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